Friday, August 18, 2017

August 18 – “Her gift”

Chris’ birthday began with a few presents presentations.  It was kind of a clue reveal to the actual gift.  I will say up front that she did fabulous.  She figured out where I was going with all the gifts long before the end.  Of course that didn’t really help her figure out the actual final gift.  Let me explain.  The first individually wrapped gift was a collection of chains.  That’s all.  Just chains.  Next came a picture frame with photos of the two of us as we celebrated our very first Christmas together.  Next was a frame with a picture of the two of us with all of our grandkids taken this past December.  Then came a small totally black cape.  Any ideas yet?  Next was a small plastic replica of a baked turkey.  She guessed the similarities between all of them by this time, although she did have some difficulty with the cape.  How did you do?  She didn’t even need the last package, which was a copy of the movie A Christmas Carol.  Get it now?  Marley’s chains.  Spirit of Christmas Past.  Spirit of Christmas Present.  Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come (The black cape).  And the turkey Scrooge bought for the Cratchitt family.  So was that all there was to the gift?  Well, no.  See I bought us tickets to see the production of A Christmas Carol at The Grand in December.  We have wanted to see it for several years now.  Happy birthday, Chris.

We also went to lunch with Nathan and Cailyn to The Original, a Mexican food restaurant here on the Island.  April was home sick, and I think Cailyn was feeling some sympathy pains, so she didn’t really eat very much.  Quite the empathetic heart that one has.  Especially for her Mommy.  They were both feeling some better as the day wore on (And as April got some sleep).

Stopping early because, well, because it’s early.  We are leaving in a few minutes to head for a Waco.  Very quick trip to hear the boys up there do a piano recital.  Not a relaxing, calm, quiet day-trip, though.  We are taking along three extra passengers.
Hey, what’s three more grandkids in a house of four already?  Wonder what mischief we can get into …

1 Peter 3:15-16 says, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

Father, thank you for the work of our fire fighters and paramedics and police officers.  Walk with them every day on shift, and give them peace at home.  Amen.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

August 17 – “Happy birthday, Chris … and Eclipse Warnings”

Yep.  Today is Chris’ birthday.  She remembered mine in a memorable way.  Orchestrated a grandkids’ sleepover.  That’s how I know her day is coming up … if she remembers mine.  So far she has never missed.  Send her a message, a text or give her a call. 

Yesterday the siding and windows truck pulled up next door.  First action around there for several days.  Best I could tell they only unloaded about six windows.  Just stacked them against the front of the house.  I figured that meant someone would be there soon to install them.  Nope.  Somebody came later and dropped off some doors.  They put those inside.  No installation, though.  No work at all.  Just delivery.

Staff meeting at the church was spent working.  After we prayed together Jim and I screwed on 37 of the card holders to the backs of the new chairs.  We still have 13 to go, but we stopped while we were ahead.  Besides, we wanted to see if anyone notices our pattern.  We also stacked up ten more of them.  We’re trying to figure out the appropriate number of chairs that will make the room seem most inviting. 

The kids came back yesterday.  Well, Kel’s kids anyway, plus one extra they had with them.  They went to a class at the library here in town.  Something about the upcoming eclipse.  They brought us some special glasses to wear when it happens so we don’t get sucked into the spatial vortex that will be caused at the precise moment of eclipse.  Hundreds, if not thousands, are expected to go missing or to experience horrific injuries in the areas where the eclipse will only be partially visible.  In those areas the vortex will not be wide enough to envelop entire bodies, so many are expected to be trapped in a state of flux between realities.  Some part of them will remain here, trying in agony to pull themselves free from the gravitational tug that holds them.  It doesn’t look to be a pretty picture, so if you are among those who will make the attempt to witness the eclipse in an area of partial opening, be sure to wear your protective eyeglasses.  Oh, and most scientists are also recommending you watch only using the buddy system.  Get a friend, a really strong friend, to alternate viewing moments with you.  Be careful that you are both never looking at the same time.  If one of you begins to feel the effects of the suction, cry out at once so that your strong friend can grab you and hold on.  Results of this method have been deemed promising during other solar eclipses, but, of course as with all recommendations, nothing is 100% certain.  The best way to ensure your absolute safety is to stay inside and watch the event on television.  Of course then you risk falling victim to the dreaded Total Eclipse Equilibrium Hypnotic Encroachment Effect (T.E.E.H.E.E.).  You don’t even want to know what happens when that takes full control of you.  Can you say “Zombie-like existence”?  To avoid the T.E.E.H.E.E. is not all that difficult, though.  Just be sure that while you watch the broadcast you keep your head covered at all times and drink plenty of fluids.  Alfalfa juice has proven to be best, but some say they have achieved similar results with a mixture of pureed avocado pits and crushed watermelon rind, along with a twist of lime, of course.  And finally, need I even say it?  The only way to be absolutely sure of avoiding these horrible potential life-changing “difficulties”?  Total abstention.  Don’t watch at all.  But then … where’s the fun in that?

1 Peter 3:13 says, “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?”

Father thank you for Chris.  Give her a great day.  Amen.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

August 16 – “The Old Man and the … Baby”

I guess on this day in between birthdays (mine and Chris’) I should back up a bit and relate something that happened Sunday.  We were surprised with a birthday lunch after church.  A group of friends took us over to Nate’s for one of their famous burgers.  There were also presents.  Chris got a sewing machine shaped pin cushion and a gift card to Joann’s.  I got an Astros cup (really nice insulated affair), some big league chew, some peanuts, and some sunflower seeds.  Sensing a pattern here?  They were all the prelude to the tickets to an Astros game I mentioned the other day.  Great meal.  Great gifts.  Even greater friends.

Now back to yesterday.  I have to admit I didn’t have a very good birthday night.  It was that there were grandchildren everywhere I turned.  They were fine.  I woke up with neck pain issues at 3 a.m.  Then I couldn’t get back to sleep at all.  The neck still throbbed and tingled, and the music from Noa’s sound barrier that helps her sleep was all I could focus on.  The same song over and over and over and over.  You would think the boredom itself would be enough to put me to sleep.  Too many more nights like that one and I may be forced to go to the neurologist.

Other than taking selfies with Noa while wearing the goofy birthday big nose, bushy eyebrows, and a moustache glasses, my favorite moment of the sleepover (and the most frightening as well) came when I was invited by Noa to play babies.  That is an activity that has always been kind of out of my league.  I didn’t even know where to begin.  Fortunately, she was considerably more experienced than I.  Here’s a summary of the moment.
Noa: “DadDad, you’re the DadDad.”  OK, I get that we have to establish roles.  No response from me required.
Noa: “And this is our baby.”  Now I’m assuming/hoping that makes her Nani.  Again, no response required.
Noa: “And we also have a pet.”  Well, that came out of nowhere.  Now was my chance to enter into the world she was creating.
Me: “A pet what?”
Noa: (Holding up a stuffed deer we have): “A pet reindeer, silly.”  Of course.  How could I forget?  And what followed was a treatise on reindeer life.
Noa: “They live in the forest with bears and wolves.” 
Me: “Well, that’s scary, isn’t it?”
Noa (Totally serious now, so I have to be very careful with my responses): “Well, you see, Mommy reindeer walk with their babies in the forest.”
Me: “So the Mommy kicks and stomps the bear when she see him?”  Hey, this is the point where I always scored big with our boys.  It usually resulted in development of a huge scenario regarding true life in the wilds and who would win in a fight between a hungry bear and an angry reindeer Mom.  Not so much here.
Noa: (Long, silent incredulous stare while holding the reindeer tightly in her arms)
Me: (Hey, I had to try again to salvage this one): “Oh, so the Mommy protects the babies in the forest?”
Noa: “Oh, DadDad.”
About this point, Cailyn walked in and asked Noa if she wanted to play babies with her.  It took about a heartbeat for Noa to decide.  Good old goofy DadDad was trumped in the playing babies department by Cousin Cailyn.  Phew. 

The day was culminated with a big fish fry that brought back all the available Moms and Dads of the sleepover kids.  Except for April.  She had to work.  We missed you, April.  When you come we usually get to have shrimp as well as fish.  The speckled trout was fabulous, and the Astros played an afternoon game (and won), so the day was a good one in spite of its painful start.  On now to see what happens on Chris’ Birthday Eve. 

1 Peter 3:10-12 says, “For, ‘Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.  He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.  For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.’”

Father, thank you again for all those youngsters.  Can’t say enough about them.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

August 15 – “Happy birthday to me”

You know, there’s not a much better birthday than to wake up next to my best friend.  Maybe a close second was yesterday when a good friend walked in our front door.  Not while we were still in bed glorying in our incredibly blessed situation of being married to each other, though.  This would be later when we were both awake and getting ready for a birthday hike.  This friend walked over to my desk and dropped on it a pair of Astros tickets.  Yup.  Versus the Rangers, too.  Nice.

I still had to get some work done yesterday, so I did a lot of multi-tasking.  I did my best to respond to all the FaceBook posts from friends and family.  Everyone seemed to have a good time when I asked what it was I was supposed to do now that I was 64.  I got quite the list.  Very first one was skydiving.  Tempting, to be sure.  Except maybe for all the slipped and ruptured discs in my back and neck.  The five mile run was an interesting recommendation, but the accompanying encouragement to “then act like it never happened” confused me.  Do I forget the run or the birthday?  “Party like it’s 1979” sounded like fun, but then I’d have to remember what it was like to party back with a two-year-old in the house.  Some of the items that are apparently must-haves now are a life alert bracelet so I can say “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” (Always wanted one of those), an elevated toilet seat, a shower seat, and plenty of Metamucil (personally I prefer bacon cheeseburgers as a fine source of fiber).  I was encouraged to get a handicapped sticker for parking, go for ice cream, and get a PhD.  I’ll need to work on my stories of how tough things were when I was growing up.  Trekking up these treacherous sand dunes was certainly a challenge for me.  Oh, and one of the late-night additions took a moment or two to sink in … “ask your wife if she still needs you and feeds you.”  Ponder that for a moment, then access your music files.  Really old music files.  As in “Will ya still need me, will ya still feed me, when I’m 64.”  Still nothing?  You’re too young.  Google it.  I guess my favorite of all admonitions were the ones along the lines of … “Wake up one more day.”

We had a birthday party for DadDad last night.  Sleepover with 6 of the 10 grandkids.  Pizza first, then chocolate cake.  Then presents.  Goofy glasses with a big nose and moving moustache and eyebrows.  Everybody said I looked like Uncle Jay.  Maybe I should post a photo.  Then a new tape measure.  Can’t find mine.  Then all three of the Vaughan boy families got together and gave me something I have been wanting for a long time … an electric hedge trimmer.  Can’t wait to use it.  Oh, and there was the duck call chorus.  That showed up off and on.  Still happening this morning, in fact. 

Well, guess it’s time for the donut man to slither away and return in all his glory with the morning sugar fix.  Then it’s back to their parents to work it off.  Chris, you will be hard-pressed to beat this one on Thursday.  I love my job.

1 Peter 3:8-9 says, “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.  Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

Father, thank you for the many friends and family who wished me well.  Thanks for the youngsters who came to my sleepover, too.  Amen.

Monday, August 14, 2017

August 14 – “He’s a hero”

Yesterday’s tale is one of heroics.  Christina took her kiddos over to a friend’s house to swim in their backyard pool.  The youngsters were all in the water having some fun when the unthinkable happened.  About the same time, Jachin and Micah noticed that the four year old granddaughter of the pool owners was at the bottom of the pool, not moving.  Jachin was closer, so he dove under and scooped her out of the water and onto the side of the pool.  Christina and the grandfather immediately began CPR.  Before long the little girl regained consciousness and was rushed to the hospital.

The following morning the girl was doing better.  She roused and woke up and spoke to her Mom, “Where am I?” 
Mom gently answered, you’re at the hospital.  You had an accident at the pool.”  And then she added a query of her own, “What’s the last thing you remember?” 
And the answer was a bit startling. “I remember I was scared.  And I remember thinking I was going to heaven to be with Jesus.  But then Jesus told me, ‘Everything is going to be all right.  Somebody is coming to rescue you.”
Tears rolling down her cheeks, Mom managed a reply, “Somebody did rescue you.”
And the inevitable, “Who?”
Mom told her very simply, “Jachin.”
And the young victim answered with a tired, “I’m glad that boy was there.”

She seems to be doing some better now.  She has a bump on her head, so it was possible she slipped unnoticed before falling into the water.  She began running a fever yesterday, so they are watching her very carefully. 

As for the Vaughan kids, they were understandably shaken over the incident.  It will take them a while before they can fully process what they went through.  But in the meantime, as far as this proud DadDad is concerned, we have a real hero in the family.

1 Peter 3:3-4 says, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.  Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.”

Father, please take care of that little girl as she recovers from a pretty frightening experience.  And help Jachin and Micah and Josiah and Noa work through their feelings.  Amen.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

August 13 – “A bit of the James Bond”

Well, didn’t we start our Saturday off with a bang?  No, really.  A real bang.  The electricians were next door at 40 Steps around 7 a.m. and hit the ground running with hammers and saws and generators a-blazin’.  It didn’t take Chris long to make an appearance from the bedroom to see who was making all the racket this time.  My favorite construction story of the day came early on this time.  Shortly after Chris disappeared into the kitchen to make some breakfast, I heard it.  Faintly at first, and then much louder.  Much.  One of the guys had begun to sing.  At the top of his lungs.  I didn’t recognize the words because they were all in Spanish, but I was impressed by his passion.  I softly called out to Chris to come hear the concert, but before she could join me at the front door one of his buddies told him to shut up.  Construction sites are awesome.

We decided to split up for our errands.  Chris headed into Texas to Hobby Lobby to get some batting for her latest quilt.  My responsibilities were all in town.  The bank.  The Post Office.  The Dollar Store.  And of course WalMart.  I had a great time people watching.  Except at the Post Office.  I was the only customer there.  The lady at the counter asked me if I locked the door behind me or something.  Certainly an odd occurrence.  Now WalMart on the other hand was packed.  Oddly, however, I saw something I don’t think I have ever seen.  Almost every cash register was manned and operational.  Amazing.  Now, Chris did have a bit of difficulty getting back home.  She was right in the middle of the Saturday, back to school, no tax weekend savings, crazy shoppers.  And once she escaped that?  Construction.  And after that?  Two different wrecks right at the causeway.  I’m not sure how long it finally took her to get home.  She got started right away on the quilt, though. 

I had a beach wedding to officiate last night.  Supposed to start at 7 p.m.  Pretty much close friends and family only.  I think we finally got going close to eight.  One thing kind of startled me while we were waiting for the bride and groom to arrive.  One of the guests looked a whole lot like Chris’ Aunt Hope.  I really did a double take.  Even surreptitiously took a photo of her and sent it to Chris.  Just a bit of the James Bond in me, I guess.  She agreed that the resemblance was uncanny, especially at first glance.  I checked in on the Astros game a time or two as well.  They ended up in a rain delay, so I didn’t really miss all that much.  And the way they played, I wouldn’t have missed all that much anyway.  Interesting way to spend the first hour of a wedding, wasn’t it?

1 Peter 2:24-25 says, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.  For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Father, be with the couple who got married last night.  Give them a healthy and happy start.  Amen.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

August 12 – “Critter incursion”

Critter incursion alert.  I was locking up the house after a late-night Astros loss (too many of those lately).  As the last light extinguished and darkness fell, I heard a bark from the backyard.  And then another.  And then it became sustained and focused.  And just about that time I heard just above my head, the pounding – that’s pounding, not pitter-pattering – of critter feet, racing across the roof.  I struggled with whether to hurry outside and see just what manner of beast could cause such a ruckus.  Reason – and fatigue – finally won, so I went on to bed, chuckling at the thought of what Chris’ reaction might have been.  Cat?  Perhaps.  Opossom?  Could have been.  Gigantic rat?  Maybe we’d best not go there.  And here’s the thing.  The next morning, as I brushed my teeth in the quiet of early day (The “early day” is always quiet around our house.  Chris doesn’t get up until a good hour or so after I do), I heard it once again.  Not as powerful, as strong, as … as … big as the night before, but still an interloper.

With that rodentious scare behind me, I made my way to the drivers’ license bureau.  It was time for me to be renewed, and I had apparently reached beyond the upper limit of doing it online.  They wanted to see my pretty face and test my weary eyes.  All went well, though.  I only had three people in front of me, and once they figured out how to see into the eye testing machine, things went fairly quickly.  I’m good on the roads now.  Well, at least until 2023.  Let’s see … that’s two years before our fiftieth wedding anniversary.  Guess I’ll have to renew one more time before we can disappear into the countryside on a magical mystery tour. 

On the way home I stopped at Home Depot to get some Scotchgard (That’s how it’s spelled, thank you very much, Spellcheck).  Chris and I spent the better part of our date day morning at the church spraying down 100 new chairs to try to keep them juice and coffee stain free for a little while, at least.  I like this option better than banning juice and coffee altogether. 

Next on our date day agenda was a trip over to Moody Gardens.  We wanted to see the dinosaur exhibit before it closes.  Of course it was a little difficult to get in.  UTMB was having its commencement in the convention center.  But what we wanted was on the other side of the building, so we were fine, right?  Temporary setback, right?  Umm.  No one told us yesterday was the day that every single tourist in Galveston had chosen to visit Moody Gardens.  Not Schlitterbahn, mind you.  They were all parked in the Moody Gardens parking lot.  Make that parking lotS.  All of them.  We would have had to park almost to Jamaica Beach, and then walk in the 100 plus heat index just to get there.  You know what?  Nope.

So what to do instead?  How about a quick stop at Palais Royal.  They were apparently having a big sale, and Chris was interested in checking them out.  No clothes made it into our cart, sadly.  The big sale prices placed them almost to where they probably should have been anyway.  But we did make a purchase.  Chris found a purse she liked.  Half price.  That was a good buy, especially since Chris hates buying anything for herself.  We even had a really nice sales clerk.  She told us to have a blessed and divine day.  I’ve had a blessed one before.  Not sure what she meant by divine, but I’ll take the sentiment anyway.

We weren’t quite through with our date day yet.  One more stop.  One more place to take a leisurely walk, holding hands with my beloved, and maybe discover something strange and exciting in the process.  So where is your guess?  The seawall?  Down on the sand?  Perhaps the Strand?  All nice, but nope, not for us.  We went to … drum roll … WalMart.  I even found a pair of cheap shorts while we were there. 

Oh, and we made it home in plenty of time to watch the Astros game with some friends in Arlington.  No, I mean literally.  They were in Arlington at the Astros game.  She is a big Rangers fan, so we texted back and forth the entire game.  It was a lot of fun.  Let’s just say, when all was said and done … she had a bit more fun than I did.  Great ending to a great date day.  Hey.  Any day spent hanging out with the lady I love is a great day.

1 Peter 2:20 says, “But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.”

Father, thank you that Chris is happy to spend a day doing essentially nothing, but doing it together.  Amen.